US tax probe turns to HSBC India records

City A.M. Reporter
THE TAX division of the US department of justice is seeking a summons for records about American clients of HSBC in India, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The government filed the request with a San Francisco federal court yesterday, seeking permission to get information from the bank about American residents who might be using HSBC India accounts to evade federal income taxes.

“The ability to hide accounts in foreign countries is rapidly dwindling,” said John DiCicco, deputy assistant attorney general for the justice department’s tax unit.

The government says thousands of US citizens might have undisclosed HSBC accounts.

The government has been probing other banks after Swiss bank UBS paid $780m (£477.9m) and admitted it helped wealthy American citizens stash assets overseas tax-free, though it has not targeted other banks officially in court documents.

Tax officials have been going through 18,000 accounts gathered in a tax amnesty programme last year and 4,000 more that UBS handed over to end the US government’s civil tax probe.

In January, the US government indicted a New Jersey man for conspiring to hide accounts in India and said five bankers, identified as working for HSBC by people familiar with the probe, as helping him do so.

A representative of HSBC was not immediately available for comment.